One of our favourite easy dinner dishes this summer has been panzanella. It's quick to make, refreshingly cool on a hot day, and it gets gobbled up by the Wee Lass.
Here's how I make it for 2 adults and 1 toddler ...
Most Delicious Panzanella
stale bread (good quality crusty French or Italian style bread, approximately 1 cup per person when cubed)
3 fresh tomatoes (approximately 1 per person your salad will serve)
1/2 fresh cucumber (optional)
1/2 to 1 can of diced tomatoes (optional -- desirable if your bread is rock solid stale)
4 Tbsp olive oil (really just a generous glug ... I don't actually measure it)
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar or cider vinegar)
garlic (1 clove)
assorted fresh herbs (basil, thyme, oregano)
salt and pepper
Saw the stale bread into small bite-size cubes and place in a shallow salad bowl or deep pie dish. I used the end of a loaf of rosemary foccaccia. If your bread is really stale, you'll want to make sure it all gets thoroughly soaked, so that's why a shallow dish works better. Now you're going to make a juicy concoction to dump on top. You could mix it in a separate bowl first, but I always just add it to the bread as I go.
Finely chop your tomatoes (and cucumber if you're using it) into small cubes. If your bread is super stale, then add a can of diced tomatoes for extra liquid and tomatoe-y goodness (I didn't need it in this case). Drizzle on a generous amount of olive oil (use a bit more if your bread is really hard) and add the balsamic vinegar. Mix this sauce around to combine. You can add finely chopped garlic and shallot directly, but I prefer to soften the flavour of it with a quick saute. I actually forgot to add it in the pictured salad and the whole thing was still tasty.
Add a bit more olive oil if it seems like a good idea. Toss in a big spoonful of capers and enough olives for everyone to get at least 3 or 4. Finely chop a generous bunch of fresh basil, thyme, and oregano and add to your bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix it and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Photographs and artwork by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.